Preparing for mission in a post-pandemic Church

In conjunction with World Mission Sunday, Archbishop Simon Poh, Episcopal President for New Evangelisation and Pontifical Mission Societies of MalaysiaSingapore-Brunei, invites us to reflect on our call to be missionaries, particularly in a post-pandemic Malaysian Church

Oct 22, 2021

Pope Francis, in his message for Mission Sunday, calls every Catholic to a personal encounter with Jesus and our Heavenly Father’s love. We are to “speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Baptised and sent forth as missionary disciples, Jesus commands us to “go therefore to the highways and byways and invite everyone you find” (Mt 22:9). Our Lord desires that no one is excluded from the Father’s compassionate love which is very much needed during this pandemic.

I invite all Catholics to prepare for a post-pandemic Malaysian Church, trusting that the Holy Spirit will inspire new ministries. Here are my reflection points. What is your concrete response? Is this a mission that the Lord is putting in your heart?

1. Will we lose some of our Catholics after this pandemic? How do we reach out to them?

--Will Catholics come back to church for the Sacraments?

--Will parents still bring babies for Baptism? Will children be sent to catechism when churches are allowed to open?

--What about our young people? [Read Christus Vivit]

2. Have we prepared for any successor? Who will carry on our work?

--Have we prepared new leaders from the younger generations?

--Is there a succession plan to equip and train new leaders?

3. Socio-Political, Economic and Religious scenario.

--The pandemic has revealed the discrepancy in the distribution of wealth and especially of medical facilities between the more developed Peninsular and rural Borneo Sarawak and Sabah.

--Are we seeing a rise in religious intolerance?

--Are we experiencing more discrimination according to race and religion? Are we aware of change in institutional policies that is affecting the rakyat?

--What about students’ conversion to other faiths through educational institutions and mixed marriages?

4. Increasing the digital divide between the haves and the have nots, the urban and the rural.

--Rural communities lack adequate internet bandwidth. The poor cannot afford computers and mobile phones for on-line classes.

--Are we seeing a widening gap between the rich and the poor, those who can afford technology and those who are left out?

--This digital divide will be a reality when the current generation of children grow into adults. How can we empower poor and rural youth now?

5. New poor among us.
--A category of NEW POOR — people who have recently lost employment and those who cannot sustain their businesses, etc.

--Are we helping the new poor in our midst?

6. Mental Health Issues and Suicides. Call for new ministries

--Rise in mental health issues, loneliness and depression, especially among the isolated and housebound elderly. We note the increasing cases of suicide.

--Are we availing ourselves of outreach, pastoral care and counselling for these people?

--Is there a ministry to reach out by contacting and calling the elderly who live alone?

--Is there an initiative to just make a short phone call to ensure the elderly are coping and to offer a prayer to help them sustain themselves through the day?

--New realities call for new ministries that the Holy Spirit wants to raise up. Who will respond to take up these new ministries?

7. Pastoral care for Families impacted by death during pandemic.

--Do we know which families have been affected by death during this pandemic?

--Are we offering pastoral care, emotional and spiritual support to bereaved families?

8. Nation building starting with families as the domestic Church moves towards a truly Keluarga Malaysia.

--Christian families are the building blocks of the Church, society and nation.

--Now is the time to revisit and promote authentic values of family life to contribute to our nation’s vision to become a truly Keluarga Malaysia. Let Christian family life be the very model foundation of our nation. [Read Amoris Laetitia].

9. Care for ecology because of the Climate change crisis.

--Are we ready to make changes to our consumerist, materialistic and individualistic lifestyle?
--Buy only what is needed.
--Use less plastic, electricity, and water.
--Do not waste food. Eat less meat and dairy produce. Care for the environment. [Read Laudato Si]

Some guiding principles for our mission

1. Be the Church that has been on the streets and smells of the Sheep. To understand God’s mission for us. Read Evangelii Gaudium.

2. Always remember the Catholics who are unable to come and participate in church.

Eighty per cent of our Catholics are not directly benefiting from parish pastoral care.

Do we know who the Catholics are that are not in church on Sundays? This will be our mission and ministry. Go out to seek and minister to them.

3. Never forget the poor who need our help to survive.
As brothers and sisters of the same human family, created by our heavenly Father, never allow our pastoral planning, discussions, or meetings to lose sight of the poor of the Lord at our doorsteps. Read Fratelli Tutti.

4. All of humanity will need to share resources to overcome the negative impact of this pandemic.
Catholics are called to interreligious dialogue of life and action with other Christians, other faiths, and NGOs. In a spirit of interreligious dialogue and ecumenical cooperation, let us collaborate on common humanitarian projects to alleviate suffering and provide food, shelter and basic needs to all in need. I exhort all spiritual and national leaders to put aside religious or political differences.

Let us witness our love and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ through actions inspired by our Catholic faith.

“In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

With my prayers and blessings
Archbishop Simon Po

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